The COVID-19 pandemic translated into an $8.2 million revenue loss for Vancouver’s Science World, and now the beloved Vancouver attraction hopes it can stay open with visitor numbers only a fraction of what they used to be.
The iconic orb along False Creek has been the site of field trips, family day trips, adult-oriented cocktail exhibits, and much more for the past 30 years. But the pandemic forced it to close from March 14 to August 1, resulting in an 85% loss in revenue.
“It’s had a huge impact on us,” Teresa Virani, vice president of marketing and visitor experience, told Daily Hive.
The science centre has reduced its hours, only opening from Thursday to Sunday, and redesigned its exhibits to be pandemic-friendly. Guests are required to wear masks, for example, and book a time slot in advance.
At their Towers of Tomorrow exhibition featuring replicas of famous landmarks built with LEGO, guests receive their own bucket of pre-sanitized blocks to build their own structure. Afterwards, each bucket is cleaned before being put back out on the floor.
But even with coronavirus safety measures, guests aren’t buying tickets like they did pre-pandemic. Visitor levels are only 12% of what they usually are this time of year, Virani said.
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March Break is usually Science World’s busiest time of the year, followed by summer, when kids are out of school. It lost out on both those occasions this year.
Fall is usually the time when it’s busy with field trip groups or sending outreach teams to classrooms for science demonstrations. With many students learning remotely this year and schools grappling with teaching in a physically distanced way, those experiences aren’t happening.
“It’s so important to inspire kids to go into these STEM … related fields,” she said, adding the non-profit still wants to deliver on its mission to inspire kids to get excited about science.
In order to stay afloat, Virani said Science World either needs more visitors to buy tickets or more money coming from the government. Science World did receive a coronavirus-related wage subsidy, but that money is tapering off as summer comes to a close.
“We’re really hoping we are able to stay open,” Virani said. “There’s not much left for families to do, especially with the smoke.”